Heads in the sand

HEADS IN THE SAND…. A decade ago, George W. Bush told voters he’d support a cap on carbon dioxide. Two years ago, the GOP’s McCain/Palin presidential ticket supported a cap-and-trade policy.

The Republican hostility towards science and evidence isn’t new, but its wholesale, party-wide rejection of all climate data is new.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has to be smiling. With one exception, none of the Republicans running for the Senate — including the 20 or so with a serious chance of winning — accept the scientific consensus that humans are largely responsible for global warming.

The candidates are not simply rejecting solutions, like putting a price on carbon, though these, too, are demonized. They are re-running the strategy of denial perfected by Mr. Cheney a decade ago, repudiating years of peer-reviewed findings about global warming and creating an alternative reality in which climate change is a hoax or conspiracy.

Some candidates are emphatic in their denial, like the Nevada Republican Sharron Angle, who flatly rejects “the man-caused climate change mantra of the left.” Others are merely wiggly, like California’s Carly Fiorina, who says, “I’m not sure.” Yet, over all (the exception being Mark Kirk in Illinois), the Republicans are huddled around an amazingly dismissive view of climate change.

For context, it’s worth emphasizing that Mark Kirk voted for cap-and-trade, only to announce soon after that he opposed cap-and-trade and would vote against it in the Senate if given the chance.

We’re not talking about a party that tries to resolve problems with misguided solutions; we’re talking about a party that has convinced itself that the problems don’t exist.

Worse, the approach extends to far too much of the policy landscape. Kevin Drum had this item last night.

The modern, tea party-inflected conservative movement is based on a few core principles. Global warming is a hoax. Income inequality hasn’t been growing. Tax cuts don’t increase the deficit. America has the best healthcare in the world. Evolution is a myth. The economy is weak because of regulatory uncertainty. Barack Obama is a socialist.

I’m trying to think of another successful political movement in history based on so many objectively fantastical beliefs. Not really coming up with any….

It’s also striking to me the ways in which these same conservatives act as if they have some kind of allergy to reason. One can present them with all kinds of evidence, but it’s still like entering a Python-esque Argument Clinic.